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How to Make Family Dinners Awesome

by Tania Cowling | March 16th, 2016 | Elementary, Seasonal
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elementary dinnerMealtimes should be happy routines for your kids. Remember that pleasant eating experiences are just as important as nutritious foods. At this age, the kiddos are developing their food habits and attitudes – hopefully good ones, although sometimes the dinner table can be a battleground between kids and their parents. Do your kids balk at the food served? Maybe the fight is over pizza versus pot roast? Does this reaction make you want to shout, bribe, lecture, or threaten? Hate to admit that this is a normal part of growing up. So, how do you make family dinners happy times? Here are a few suggestions to try.

Before the meal:

Whenever possible, involve your children in planning, preparing, and/or serving meals. Remember that kids are enthusiastic helpers.

Engage them in a fun craft for the dinner table. Let them make napkin holders by cutting a strip from poster board. Take a new pencil and dip the eraser end in paint and encourage your child to make colorful dots on the strip. When dry, staple the cuff and insert a dinner napkin.

Do your kids know how to set the table? It can be a teachable moment that involves following directions. Show them one place setting and have them follow through with the rest of the plates, silverware, and glasses. Hopefully your kids will enjoy this task, making this their special part to prepping for family dinners.

During the meal:

Try to serve foods “family style” so that your youngsters can learn to decide how much to put on his/her plate.

Permit your child to make some food choices. When introducing new foods, offer a “try me” portion and avoid major pressure. Praise your kids when they do try new tastes. Who knows, they might find a new favorite.

Stay away from the “clean plate club” idea. Instead, focus on helping them to only take portions they will finish. Offer seconds if they are still hungry.

Create an atmosphere of acceptance at the table. Include your child in the family conversations and make sure each child has the opportunity to be the center of attention for a short period. This is the best time to discuss plans and interests.

Most important, encourage good behavior at the family dinner table. Whether alone with just the immediate family or when extended family and friends are invited – good manners are a must. Make sure to “pat your kids on the back” for a job well done, from tasks before the meal until the dinner is done.

And lastly, do try to have as many family dinners as possible. I know it’s difficult with work schedules, sporting events, and classes revolving around your family, but these traditions will be ones that will be remembered long after your child is young.

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